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Which brands are getting the 90s trend right?

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By Hannah Bowler | Senior Reporter

November 30, 2023 | 7 min read

With over 75.3bn views on TikTok for the still-popular 90s trend it’s no surprise marketers are looking to capitalize on the cultural moment.

Girls listening to a portable CD player at a Müller Corner Originals pop up

Müller Corner Originals 90s pop up

The Gen Z-led 90s trend has shown no signs of slowing. And brands from all categories are jumping on the bandwagon. From Juicy Couture tracksuits to Müller Corner Originals, brands have been finding ways to capitalize on the trend and tap into millennial nostalgia.

Like all trends though, marketers need to be clever about how they show up. Itvs easy for brands to fall into gimmick territory. And for brands that were big in the 90s and are now having a revival, it’s business critical to get the trend right, lean in too hard and risk losing relevance again as the trend moves on.

We’ve picked out five brands that are, so far, getting the 90s trend right.

Clarks

The Wallabee was the cool shoe of the 90s made famous by Britpop and hip-hop with the likes of Oasis, The Verve and Wu-Tung Clan all fans of the iconic Clarks shoe. By the 00s though, with the rise of sneaker culture, Clarks lost its cultural relevance and, in the last two decades, it has become better known for one of its other strengths – school shoes.

As part of Clarks’ revival strategy its marketing and product teams tapped into the 90s trend giving a modern spin to the Wallabee. The shoe was launched on TikTok by Jabari Banks, who plays Will in Bel-Air, the reboot of the classic 90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Clarks also collaborated with 90s trending brand Eastpak.

Tara McRae, Clarks’ global chief marketing and digital officer, says that Clarks has the authority to tap into the 90s trend because it is authentic to its heritage. “We won’t do anything that’s not authentic, we will not just jump into a trend because it’s there. If it’s not authentic to Clarks and it doesn’t fit our aesthetic and our brand DNA, we won’t do it.”

Claire’s

The iconic 90s mall jewellery brand has had a major comeback with its 2021 net sales at $1.4bn, which was up 53% on 2020 and up 9% on the 2019 fiscal year. The business has hugely benefited from a resurgence of 90s and 00s fashion among Gen Z and Alpha.

In 2021 Kristin Patrick was hired from PepsiCo as chief marketing officer to modernize the brand. One of her moves was to put Claire’s ear piercing offering central to its marketing. “Ear piercing is at the center of what we do and it’s what immediately comes to mind when consumers think of our brand,” says Patrick. The ‘Get Pierced’ campaign marked Claire’s first ever national TV spot.

Champion

Girl in a high school sports stadium wearing a pink Champion hoodie

The American ’C’ embroidered sweatshirt brand has seen its sales skyrocket as a result of the 90s trend (estimated at $2bn annually in 2023). Similar to Clarks, Champion revamped iconic styles from its archives to appeal to a new generation of consumers.

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Its former president, Susan Hennike previously told CNBC: “To address our consumers’ desire for new features, style and fabrications, we played with various graphic prints, dyes and colors, in an effort to update them in a modern way that is still true to the brand.“

Müller Corner Originals

People playing video games at Muller Corner's Soho pop up

British yogurt brand Müller Corner Originals brought back its 90s flavors Müller Corner Originals Strawberry and Choc Orange Balls and Müller Corner Originals Mississippi Mud Pie Inspired. To mark the occasion the brand ran an experiential campaign in Soho for visitors to immerse themselves in 90s throwback vibes. There was a coloring with scented markers, a KISS FM DJ set and a ball pit.

Earlier in the year it also launched a out-of-home campaign that resurrected the Magic Eye craze that took the 90s by storm. Magic Eye was a series of books featuring 3D optical illusions that proved almost impossible to decipher for many.

Toby Bevans, strategy and marketing director at Müller Yogurt & Desserts, said: “From fashion, footwear and summer film releases to Insta filters and TikTok trends, 90s aesthetics are having a moment. Consumer research told us there was massive potential in dialing into our own 90s heritage by bringing back one of our most-loved and sorely missed flavors – Müller Corner Mississippi Mud Pie-Inspired. So now all those superfans who’ve been petitioning us for its return can, at last, get a taste of that 90s icon.”

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